Magical Morocco #3 (Sahara Desert)

The bus view from Marrakesh to Tagounite
The Mud Castle in Tagounite
Sahara  is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. The Sahara covers the large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Lybia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.
Mr. Ikhlaf, the Berber man, our driver in Sahara
From Marrakesh, we took bus and spent almost 9 hours to Tagounite before heading to Sahara. It's really a long and winding road, ups and downs literally with deep valley, mountain, huge rock and super blue sky around us. Some of us got dizzy and threw up but still the view are totally awesome. All magnificent views are here. You name it.
In front of our camps where we ate and enjoyed the stars and music at night
Our camps.  No worries, they're equipped with mattress, blanket, electricity and a clean toilet.
When we arrived at a small city, Tagounite, we felt kind of flashed back to the year of 1970s. Tagounite is a dusty city, surrounded by very simple terracotta houses and shops however for the fresh fruits (they have the best oranges !!!) and vegetables, Morocco is the best. Up until now every time I order orange juice, I always feel disappointed since there is no orange juice as fresh as the one in Morocco.  Most of Morocco fruits and vegetables are exported to European countries.
Love this pic! (Credit to Mica)

In Tagounite, we stayed in a mud castle owned by a very kind host, Kamal. This was a very special place for us since we shared one big room and slept there altogether. The most 'adventurous' part was the bathroom, it's far from the main house, no electricity so it was a total darkness and you could hear the dogs were  barking all night long. Creepy? Everyone just stayed in the house waiting until the morning came before we decided to go to the bathroom with several of us #BackpackerAbal-abal hahaha...
Yay...we made it. At one of the high sand dunes in Sahara
The next day, we got on in a four-wheel-drive car. These 2,5 hours drive were so challenging. Rocky, dusty, hot, everything covered by the sand. But nothing beats Sahara, the sunset, the sunrise, the sand dune, the view, everything are beyond belief. Never thought that I could visit this place, stayed in a very comfortable camp, slept under millions of stars while enjoying the Berber (one of the ethnic groups in Morocco)  sang and played Morocco musical instruments. WHAT A ONCE IN A  LIFETIME EXPERIENCE...!!!

Book Review: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Title: The Magic String of Frankie Presto
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: HarperCollins
Paperback, October 2016
496 pages

"And where you are going, you will also have to listen. Remember that. In music and in life."
This 7th book of Mitch Albom will definitely make the readers feel lost since the very first page and you can't just stop reading it.  Who is Frankie Presto? He is just a fictional talented musician who will easily capture your heart and at the end of the story, you wish he's real.

The story starts at Frankie Presto's funeral. You will then interact with famous people including  'real' musicians and events (such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles members, Woodstock, and many more) who will share their  moments with Frankie and  how Frankie affected their lives in a very intimate ways.
"This is life. Things get taken away. You will learn to start over many times or you will be useless."
Narrated by music. Yes, music. You will find lots of unique ideas in this book. Beside music as the narrator, the author also connected with the famous people whose lives he has inserted into this fictional character, and a lot of them even contributed their own words to make the story more authentic.

Frankie, a Spanish orphan who was born in a burning church. His life is so rich. He experiences an extraordinary journey around the world. He was raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain, he then moved to USA. Enjoying his popularity then life changes. More and more tragedies come. His career begins to fall. He feels depressed. But life always has its own magical way to end this deeply moving tale.

For me, this book is Albom at his best. Highly recommended. Still can't get this tale out of my head and ...HEART. 

"At a certain point, your life is more about your legacy to your kids that anything else." 

Magical Morocco #2 (Marrakesh)

On-the-bus view from Chefchaouen to Tangier  
Marrakesh after raining
"Welcome to Marrakesh, the drivers here are crazy,"said our taxi driver  welcoming us who  still got a kind of  'jet lag' after trapped for 12 hours in the train from Tangier to Marrakesh. That's typical Morocco train, never be punctual. We supposed to arrive at 8 am however at 12 noon finally we landed. Starving, feeling cold, and mati gaya.     
Riad Charms Marrakesh, where we stayed and felt in love with the place
Breakfast at our Riad
Marrakesh is the fourth biggest cities in Morocco after Casablanca, Fes, and Tangier. The city is surrounded by terracotta-painted buildings. The soil color protect the eyes when summer hits Morocco since its temperature can go up until 53 Celsius degree. Lucky us to visit Morocco in March when the weather is very cold, even the temperature could drop until 5 degree in the evening. So, taking your jacket or coat is a must.
At Jamaa el-Fna
Not like a peaceful Chefchaouen, Marrakesh is a very busy city. Try to walk along its long and winding alleys, and get ready to meet lots of merchants who sell their products such as cloths, carpets, ceramic, clay handicraft, woven fabrics, homemade cookies (France influence is very strong in Morocco), also the 'crazy' motorbike riders, mixed with donkey wagons, street performers, and more, you need full concentration to survive through this area. 
@Madrasa Ben Yousef, Morocco is rich for its beautiful-patterned of ceramic
We stayed in a very comfortable riad (a Morocco traditional house). A very cozy place with friendly receptionists and chefs (yes, we couldn't stand the fresh smell of new baked cakes and all a.k.a laper terus hahaha). There are several must-visit places in Marrakesh such as Ben Yousef  Madrasa (one of the biggest Islamic schools in Morocco), Bahia Palace (a Morocco palace that open for public), or the highlight one is Jamaa el-Fna, a very popular old market that full of everyone and everything, just sit at one of the cafes there, sip the mint tea (Morocco special tea) plus accompanied by fresh-baked cake that just came out of the oven, you will feel that time kind of stops...for a while...  

15 Amazing Years

MARRIAGE is when a man looses his BACHELORS  DEGREE
and a woman gets her MASTERS DEGREE.


Happy 15th Anniversary to us. Never thought we can go this far.
Hope for another 15 years and many more years to come!

Magical Morocco #1 (Chefchaouen)

The best  breakfast ever with olives, jams, honey, orange juice  and mints tea. 
My plan to visit Morocco has been set up since a year ago. I even had discussed this trip with my late father and he eagerly (as usual) supported me to go plus asked me to buy a red fez or  tarboosh (Moroccon hat). Eleven days before my trip, my father was hospitalized. I thought I'd cancel my trip since I couldn't imagine if something happened to him and I was not around.  But I guess my father and God had a conspiracy to make one of my bucket lists fulfilled. Four days before the trip started, my father passed away.
Aladdin Shop is the best shop for all organics goods, these are solid soaps.
So this trip was full with a mixed feeling. Enjoying the trip and a new friendship a lot however the empty feeling came when I returned to Jakarta. Usually after returning from my trip, I always dropped by at my father's house, reporting the trip, delivering the souvenirs and showing him all the pictures's different now. Well...time is a healer. I am sure this too shall pass. Insya Allah.
The man with the hat is the owner of Aladdin Shop that will explain wholeheartedly about face cream, soap, spices, etc.
Back to the trip, I spent two weeks just to explore Morocco. I went to five cities in Morocco therefore I will divide my Morocco post in five parts. This trip was kind of backpacking therefore we used all kinds of public transports such as bus and train and spent eight until twelve hours on the road. The journey started from Jakarta-KL-Doha(Qatar)-Casablanca(Morocco). After flying for almost 18 hours, we finally landed in Casablanca. Not even got our full consciousness yet but we just hurriedly got into taxi and spent (shockingly) almost seven hours on the road.
Still at Aladdin Shop: The Solid Perfume
Our first destination was Chefchaouen also known as the Blue City. Chefchaouen is one of the  old cities in Morocco built in 1471. Located in Rif Mountains, this city is well known for its building which mostly painted blue.

Some said that this blue color is to avoid the mosquitos since the mosquitos don't like blue color like clean water.  Others associated  this blue color with Jew refugees who came in 1930s. The Jews considered blue color as a symbol of sky and heaven, something spiritual.

After spending 18 hours on the plane and packed in the car  within seven hours, arriving in this Blue City was such an oasis for us. A small yet intimate local house to stay, fresh yet super yummy breakfast, kind local people, almost all of them welcomed us with the greetings of Assalamualaikum, unique merchandises with a very affordable price, and the good looking local people, both male and female, their looks are a combination of several races such as Arabic and European,  what  a perfect combination.

Good food, warm people and beautiful surrounding, what else could I ask for more?